Photo by Eugenijus Barzdzius
Reflection by Stephanie Decker 

My daughter says to me quite often that she can’t wait until she is five because then she will be in kindergarten. And after five, she says, she will be six. I think to myself, here it begins, the race to grow up.

Not that I can’t relate. I spent a lot of time as a kid wishing to be older. I couldn’t wait to be thirteen because then I would be a teenager. Then when I was, it was sixteen I wanted to be, so I could drive. Then it was eighteen, and then twenty one.

Now I am an adult and have many of the responsibilities that come with being one. I have bills to pay, a house to keep clean, a daughter to care for and raise. The decisions I make no longer affect only me, but my family as well. I have an understanding of some of the harsher realities of life, things my daughter does not. As much as I love being a mother, sometimes I wish I could be as carefree as my daughter, even for only a few hours.

I remember a time when I was. The only real responsibilities I had then were a few chores, homework, and trying to get along with my siblings. I remember entire days spent playing games and using my imagination. Somehow, Santa Claus came every Christmas, and the Tooth Fairy came every time a tooth was lost. I was unaware that my parents were always working behind the scenes. All I knew was that my needs and many of my wants were somehow met.

Childhood is important because it is only a brief time of a life. In a lifespan that could reach into the eighties or nineties, childhood is only the first eighteen years. Every kid deserves to have a happy and carefree childhood, before growing up and living in the adult world.

Now, when I hear kids say they cannot wait to grow up, I tell them that yes, they can, and they really should. Once you grow up, you may be able to feel like a kid again, but you will never actually get to be one.

Click here to listen to a recording by the author. 

© Stephanie Decker, 2011